So often in the watch world, it’s easy to forget that the wristwatch is the relative new horological kid in town, with widespread adoption only occurring after WWI. Prior to that, refined gentlemen of means and taste relied on pocket watches, and earlier yet, everyone relied on clocks. Stuffy, boring old clocks.
Well, the art of clockmaking is far from dead these days — and far from stuffy or boring, too. Believe it or not, one can still find dedicated artists and craftsmen creating standalone clocks today that are every bit as complex, beautiful and unique as the most exclusive examples of haute horology coming from the likes of Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin.
One such clock maker is the self-taught Miki Eleta, who debuted his latest masterpiece, the Hippocampus, at MB&F‘s M.A.D. Gallery in Geneva, Switzerland. To call the Hippocampus a mere clock, however, is to miss the forest for the trees. Yes, it tells time — quite accurately, thanks to Miki’s eponymous escapement — but its raison d’être is to inspire the soul through both sight and sound. Standing over nine feet tall, the Hippocampus could almost be considered a modern-day relative of the grandfather clock, but this one hides a secret. Not content to merely chime the hours, the Hippocampus features a novel movement that plays a unique melody each time it chimes. In fact, it won’t repeat itself for over a hundred years. Perhaps this a play on its namesake section of the brain, which is vital in memory; this chime never forgets a tune, but only so it won’t ever duplicate itself.
Miki wasn’t always a clock maker, however. Prior to his current career, he was a sculptor, and it shows in each of the clocks that he conceives and assembles. To date, he has created 28 unique clocks, all of which are as strange and special as his latest. If you happen to be in Geneva between now and mid-February, do yourself a favor and get to the M.A.D. Gallery; Miki makes but two clocks a year, so this may be your only chance to see in person just how special and dynamic modern clockmaking can be. Of course, if you want to box it up and take it home, it can be bought for a cool $165,000.